Shakespeare in the park


Excited to watch a play in a park for the first time, my joy knew no bounds. One of the greatest play writer, his name is synonymous with ‘elegant writing style’ and his plays filled with range of human emotions and filled with incessant shower of phrases and verses that have mesmerized the readers and audiences around the world for centuries. I have great appreciation for his work. One fine day, I accidentally navigated to Wooden O website, found that the first play of the season “Hamlet” will be performed in a park close to my apartment. The next day was uneventful and I was just looking forward to sitting on the grass in the park and watching the play.

 

On the day, as I started to drive to the park, it started to rain. Nothing could dampen my spirits. Rain or Sun I am going to experience watching the play in the park. I was so filled with enthusiasm – how is it going to be? The actors and actresses? How will the stage be set up? It is one thing to go to a play in a theater in a big city like going to a Broadway show in New York, it is totally different kind of experience to enact a play in the park. I drove to the venue in the rain and saw people gathered, some sitting on beach chairs, some had set up tents, some were sitting on mats and umbrellas were hosted up all around the little makeshift white stage. Behind the stage were three white tents where the actors and actresses were resting, some taking power naps, some drinking sodas and one in particular fixing a hat. I walked up to the gentleman who was holding out programs to the audience. I told him how unprepared I was for the weather and that it is my first time in a situation like that. He said he would give me a couple of programs to place on the wet grass and sit on them. I didn’t feel like doing that so, I politely thanked him and walked over to the booth where the site manager was organizing things. I spoke to him about my predicament and asked if I could borrow a chair. He said that they were selling caps and umbrellas but they didn’t have any chairs. He did find a small fold able stool with three legs and handed it to me. I thanked him and walked with an umbrella, eager to set it up and be seated.

 

I returned to the front of the stage, found an empty spot on the grass, set up the stool, sat on it and opened my umbrella and held it between my neck and shoulder. I was raining incessantly and there was no hint of it stopping in a next couple of hours. The play started at 7 pm with an introduction by the site manager. As I looked around, I saw couples sitting on their chairs, holding umbrellas and with blankets wrapped around them, lying on mats on the grass wearing caps and holding on to plastic sheets in a desperate attempt to protect their dresses from getting wet, having sandwiches, cherries and drinking coffee. How I wish I had someone sitting next to me holding my hand and watching the play? Well, instead of following that wish filled train of thought, I concentrated on the play, actors’ performances and the familiar phrases, script of the play, wide range of emotions on display. I had gone to watch several plays before….to name a few – ‘My Fair Lady’ in Theater Royale in York, UK, ‘Mary Poppins’ @ Straz performance arts center in Florida, ‘China doll’ in Broadway, NY, ‘Kuch bhi ho saktha hai’ in Bengaluru, India and a number of plays in ‘Ranga Shankara’.

 

This enriching experience of watching a play in the park in the rain was beyond words. My love of English language, Shakespeare, rain – all coming together. Some of my favorite quotes from the play –

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

“If we are true to ourselves, we can not be false to anyone.”

“To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.”

“To die, to sleep –
To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub,
For in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?”

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

“Listen to many, speak to a few.”

 

I liked the performances of Hamlet, Horatio and Polonius. It was quite a spectacle actors and actresses walking around with iPad, iPhone and in modern day clothes, enacting a 16th century play that had been carefully adapted to the 21st century, and not far away from the park I could see the silhouette of the mountains. Getting drenched in the rain, feeling cold, having snap sweet peas and enjoying the play I realized how I am spending a wonderful evening alone and totally happy without a care in the world. “Blissful”. How sweet to be able to enjoy an evening of leisure after all the struggles of my life. I am so glad for everything and everyone in my life for everything happens for good. When the play was over and all the actors bowed I jumped up in joy and clapped acknowledging their awesome performances and applauding their talents. I put a few dollar bills in the hat and said bye. A beautiful evening comes to an end.

Wooden O

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK

http://www.seattleshakespeare.org/

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